Monday, March 26, 2012

P4E.236 Drinking the Christian Kool-Aid

First, an explanation of the Kool-Aid reference. Sometimes we make references to cultural events that are lost on readers because we don't share a common understanding. For those who don't recall or are not old enough to remember, in November of 1978, 909 members of a religious cult called Peoples Temple, and led by a man named Jim Jones, committed mass suicide by drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide in Jonestown, Guyana. It was the largest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11, 2001. Since that time, the phrase "drinking Kool-Aid" has come to mean blindly following the instructions of or adhering to the beliefs of an authority or institution or leadership, to the point of self-harm.

My son, Ben, has a friend who has served in the military in Afghanistan. The friend's duties included teaching Afghan soldiers various subjects. Ben's friend told him that the task is sometimes hampered by the Muslim belief system of the Afghan soldiers. As an example, the soldiers do not believe in gravity. They believe that the hand of Allah holds them down on the earth and that at any time he could remove his hand and they would fly away into space. Another example is that they do not believe in germs.

Upon hearing these things, I'm sure many of you had the same reaction I had; "How backward. How Medieval. How ignorant." And yet, the Christian community has its own Kool-Aid that it drinks. Let's take the example of evolution. The Christian community has gone to all sorts of gyrations to counter the idea of evolution.To drink this Christian Kool-Aid, one must also believe in a literal 6 days of creation, an extremely short life span of the earth, and dinosaurs co-existing with humans.  The Christian community has made belief in evolution tantamount to heresy. It would rather fight over this issue than do the work that Christ charged it with.

How does it make sense that many Christians believe in the virgin birth, but have trouble with transubstantiation? Other examples of drinking the Christian Kool-Aid (at least in America) include:

- Super-Patriotism
- Unquestioning support for the U.S. Military
- Alignment with the conservative Republican Party
- Fawning over Rush Limbaugh
- Disdain for anything Obama

I'm not saying that one doesn't have the legal/constitutional right to pursue the above, just please don't sully the name of Christ by associating Christianity with it. We NEED separation of church and state to protect the Church! Stay out of politics. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's!

Lastly, because this blog has its roots in ministering to marriages in crisis, I thought I would share some of the Kool-Aid that the Christian community wants us to drink in regard to marriage.

In his book, Discovering the Mind of a Woman, Ken Nair points out four male prejudices (what I'm calling Christian Kool-Aid) that he has identified among men towards women (and therefore their wives):

1. Women are impossible to understand!
2. Women are the real problem!
3. Women are inferior to men.
4. Men are supposed to be the boss.

You might have the same reaction as above, "How backward! How positively Medieval! How ignorant." And, you would be right. But, how many times have I heard a pastor in the pulpit express these very thoughts. Sometimes subtly and sometimes not so subtly. "You know those women. They're from Venus! Can't live with 'em. Can't live without 'em!" (wink wink). Even the women in the congregation will laugh! How many times has a husband conveyed these same ideas to me during a conversation about his wife? I can tell you: Lots!

The time has come to take the Christian community to task. To assault the paradigm that it requires of us to remain a part of it. To push the limits. To refuse to drink the Christian Kool-Aid. To challenge some of the Christian community's tenets because they stand in the way of ministering to and loving a needy world.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

P4E.235 Blowing in the Wind

Peter Paul & Mary, 1966

Gwen and I recently watched this video and it really hit me this time. I've heard the song before.These are timeless questions. Sure, there are parts of the song that have a protest aspect to them. But, they are also relational. The lyrics that caught my ear were "How many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he just doesn't see" I can imagine many wives (including my own) asking this question about their husbands. And I can also imagine their resonating with the idea that "The answer is blowing in the wind."

What we have (I had) is not so much a marriage problem as a Christianity problem. In the ways that we fall short of godliness, of Christlikeness, we fall short as husbands and fathers, brothers and sons, friends and fellow travelers. God does not turn His head and pretend that he just doesn't see. God not only sees all, but He observes, He takes in, He evaluates, He understands, He cares, and He responds.

I realize that I can wallow in the melancholy of blowing in the wind, or be encouraged to dispel the questions that haunt me. I know many of the reasons why I think the way I think and act the way I do. And they can be overcome. In the movie Ben Hur, Messala tells Sextus "you ask how to fight an idea. Well, I'll tell you how... with another idea!" In our time, and in our marriages, the idea is Christianity. And, at its heart, Christianity is self-sacrificial.

The secular world believes, and the contemporary church has bought into the idea, that marriage is a 50-50 proposition. It should be fair. It should be even. Justice should prevail. But, Scripture tells us husbands that we should love our wives like Christ loved the church, and laid Himself down for her. Not fair. Not even. Not just. One man sacrificed himself for the good of the others. This is the other idea; in my opinion, a better idea. The idea that a husband should lead by sacrificing himself for the good of his wife. In obedience to Christ's teachings, we die to ourselves. We are crucified with Him. We prove we are our wife's best friend by laying down our life. Not fair. Not even. Not just. But, BETTER than fair, BETTER than even and BETTER than just. Ken Nair has said that "fairness compromises godliness." I believe he's right.

I was not old enough in the 60's to understand what was going on. But what I see in the Peter Paul & Mary video is passion. We've lost that same sort of passion. Yes, there is passion out there, but it is a self-absorbed "what's best for ME" passion. Obviously, Dylan and Peter Paul & Mary wrote and sang this song to encourage people out of there apathy. To get passionate. To care. So, I recommit to NOT looking the other way and pretending not to see. I commit to NOT letting the answer blow in the wind. And, God help me, I will start with the ones closest to me.

Blowing in the Wind
Music and Lyrics by Bob Dylan ©1963

How many roads must a man walk down
Before they call him a man
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand
How many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they are forever banned
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

How many years must a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea
How many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free
How many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky
How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry
How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind